COVID-19 Open Letter from Dr. Nick Holekamp

Open Letter from Dr. Nick Holekamp

Chief Medical Officer, Ranken Jordan Pediatric Bridge Hospital

March 26, 2020

How We Can All Save Lives Together

Like many things in life, your actions today have ripple effects.

You could save countless lives simply by staying home right now, as required by St. Louis City and County and many of the surrounding counties. Sure, it’s inconvenient. But it also makes all the difference to the vulnerable children with medically complex needs at Ranken Jordan Pediatric Bridge Hospital.

By following the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) prevention guidelines and staying home, you protect not just you and your family but also our fragile patients and the vital caregivers they rely on every day in our hospital.

Let’s start with our patients.

Children dealing with multiple medical issues are inherently more sensitive to what could go wrong if they get COVID-19 (coronavirus), such as secondary infections and complications. Almost half the children at Ranken Jordan are on a ventilator already. That means they have a deficiency of pulmonary function so that any additional injury to lung tissue could be life-threatening. These children don’t have any reserve or buffer if they are challenged, tested or stressed by an illness. There’s no room for getting worse. That’s why they are at such high risk.

Our other big concern in this coronavirus outbreak is for our dedicated health care team members who provide round-the-clock care for our children with medically complex issues.

If our employees are exposed to coronavirus in the community while they are away from Ranken Jordan, they won’t be able to come to work for two weeks to provide the necessary care for our patients. If our caregivers are self-quarantined, or worse, diagnosed with coronavirus, we could experience an acute shortage of qualified staff to care for our vulnerable patient population. With not enough caregivers available, these children’s lives are at risk.

Care Beyond the Bedside, our unique care model that encourages children to get out of their rooms to play, requires us to take extra precautions to keep children safe in our more open environment. At baseline, our rigorous approach to infection prevention has proven very successful at minimizing hospital-acquired infections.  In addition, because we don’t have an emergency room and have significantly less traffic than traditional hospitals, we feel that Ranken Jordan is actually a safer setting for these fragile kids since it’s more difficult for germs to enter the building.

Our hope is to keep the virus out of our facility completely. And we know this is possible because it is often the case that Ranken Jordan does not have a single case of influenza among patients throughout the entire flu season.

We’re constantly looking at ways to further decrease the coronavirus risk to patients and each other. We need to slow this beast down.

When communities take serious measures such as keeping people at home, as few as 1% of citizens might actually get the virus vs. up to 70% who could get it if we do nothing. These measures absolutely make a difference.

The silver lining during this outbreak has been the collaboration throughout the community. Barriers quickly fall away when we’re all fighting a common enemy and it has been gratifying to see people on the same team. I’ve also seen the immense talent, heart and courage our colleagues in the pediatric and adult health care worlds have demonstrated as we deal with this devastating virus. We need everyone to step up to be a part of that team so we can protect our children and each other.

Through preparation, vigilance and cooperation, we can protect the most vulnerable through this crisis. It’s essential for the entire community to follow the CDC guidelines and to follow the rules of staying home to stop the spread of coronavirus.

You can make the difference. You can be a hero to the kids at Ranken Jordan.